Thursday, July 9, 2020
Home Opinion Op-Eds Super Bowl Halftime Show: Too Racy Or Just Racism?

Super Bowl Halftime Show: Too Racy Or Just Racism?

Photography by Serenity (left) and Firdaus Latif (right)

Another year, another Super Bowl. While the San Francisco 49ers took a heavy loss, losing by 11 points at the end of the fourth quarter, it appeared that America was fixated on mourning something else they believed was lost that day: family-friendly entertainment.

If you are part of the millions who actively watch the Super Bowl Halftime Showinstead of using it as an extended bathroom break, then you would know that this year’s performers were international pop star Shakira and New-York-native actress-turned-singer Jennifer Lopez. Being that the two share Latina roots, it was speculated very early on that the performance would find a way to address the current situation our nation faces in regards to the imprisoned immigrants at the border.

 Spoiler: it did. 

From the visuals of children sitting in cages to a quick nod to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” you would assume that for anyone who supports the current Trump administration, this halftime show would cause an uproar. However, it seemed that all those political jabs went straight over the heads of critics. Instead, much of the backlash pertained to the dancing and outfit choices the stars decided to go with.

When it came to the dancing, I really only saw the two artists merely emulating a dance style and nothing more. From Lopez’s pole dancing to Shakira’s hips moving all over the place, it seemed audiences were worked up over the smallest things. A dance is a dance, and it only becomes sexualized when people pervert it. So, unless you’ve exposed your child to mature content, it shouldn’t matter. Compared to dry and heavily criticized shows from the past two halftime performers —  those of Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake, respectively —, this year’s performance was an incredible step up. As it currently stands, Lopez’s and Shakira’s performance remains the most watched and liked performance posted by the National Football League on their YouTube channel. I guess when things become popular, people will always find a way to bring it down. 

Aside from the dancing, the outfit choices was yet another thing that was criticized, with Shakira exposing her stomach and Lopez sporting an sparkly outfit comparable to a one piece swimsuit. It’s interesting to see this particular part of the show being condemned. Last year’s Maroon 5 performance saw lead singer Adam Levine remove his shirt during the last song of the show, dawning the shirtless look for nearly a minute and a half. Though 2019’s performance garnered negative reviews, this particular move was not one you would find being scrutinized. When a male dresses provocatively it is overlooked, but when a women decides to do the same, it suddenly no longer is family-friendly (read: double standards). 

Why is it that when women do the same things men are praised for they end up being accused of threatening our values? Historically, women have always been portrayed as inferior to the opposite gender, but we are past pretending this has any basis in reality. It’s time for all of us to grow up. A woman should be able to do and dress as she pleases and this outdated practice of slut-shaming should no longer be tolerated. Additionally, those who accuse this performance of being inappropriate for children also need to reevaluate their parenting skills if they think that a 14-minute performance is suddenly going to corrupt their souls. It is not the performers’ responsibility to be considerate of what your children watch, and if already you are allowing your child to witness the violent and aggressive sport that is football, then letting them watch this halftime show really should not be a big deal. 

2020’s halftime show was an incredible feat from both Lopez and Shakira. It was the right amount of entertaining and political, and really showcased what the Latino community has to offer. It’s hard to say whether these criticisms originate from implicit racism, misogyny or just pure hatred, but what I can say is that I hope future performers continue upsetting the easily offended. At least for me, it really isn’t a full halftime experience unless you’re able to read all the triggered tweets in real time.

Toan Truong is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. He can be reached at